Start your own seeds indoors with a windowsill propagation kit. This type of kit includes everything you need to sprout a crop of basil or chives for a windowsill herb garden. The covers for the containers provide a greenhouse effect, but also offer the option of venting open to prevent heat and moisture build up.
It’s important to cover soil beneath tomatoes with a mulch of some kind, such as straw, grass clippings, compost or shredded leaves. Many tomato diseases spend part of their time living in soil. When rain hits soil, particles splash up and can land on lower tomato leaves, leading to a disease outbreak. Covering soil is one way to help control tomato diseases. Mulch also helps soil stay moist, which helps ensure a hefty tomato crop. Another reason to mulch is that it suppresses weeds.
Homegrown tomatoes deliver flavor and then some. Raising your own crop of sun-ripened ‘maters is one of summer’s official best rewards. All it takes to grow outstanding tomatoes is attention to detail. Cover the basics, and you’ll be savoring a delicious harvest. By the way, if the thought of growing larger-than-life tomatoes packed with flavor and history appeals to you, check out heirloom varieties like ‘Mortgage Lifter’ (above), ‘Bear Claw’ or ‘Marianna’s Peace.’
Brown marmorated stink bug has been in the United States 20 years, and in that time it’s spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic, Upper Midwest and along the West Coast. Stink bugs attack many home garden crops, including beans, corn, tomatoes peppers, apples and raspberries. Their feeding wounds fruits and veggies, resulting in corky spots that are inedible. Stink bugs spend winter inside, invading home voids and attics. With their stinky personalities, these bugs stir up drama indoors when they emerge from hiding in hordes, usually in winter. In the garden, knock stink bugs into soapy water to kill them. Indoors, the same method works, or you can try vacuuming up the stinkers (which might make your vac stink). Another indoor option is using a dry-mop cleaning tool (think Swiffer-type) that you cover with duct tape, sticky side out. That device gives you reach to grab stink bugs climbing curtains, walls and ceilings.
Grown world-wide as a food or forage crop, millet bears a slight resemblance to corn in terms of leaves. Seedheads are more like bottle brushes or cattails covered in small, round seeds, which birds find irresistible. Ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum) keeps these characteristics, but offers striking leaf color. ‘Purple Majesty’ grows 4 to 5 feet tall and up to 3 feet wide with deep, dark purple leaves. ‘Baron’ grows up to 3 feet tall and wide with thinner leaves that are slightly darker than ‘Purple Majesty.’ ‘Jester’ also grows to 3 feet tall and wide with leaves in a mix of hues: burgundy, green and chartreuse. Use ornamental millet in planting beds or containers. This is a warm-season grass that’s grown as an annual in all zones.